Student-Faculty Programs Office
Summer 2017 Announcements of Opportunity

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Project:  Data Science Challenge: Measuring Coral Reefs with Airborne Imaging Spectroscopy
Disciplines:  Computer Science, Earth science
Mentor:  David Thompson, (JPL),, Phone: (818) 354-2200
Background:  The NASA-sponsored CORAL project aims to better understand coral reef ecosystems, and their sensitivities to environmental challenges such as overfishing, sea temperature rise, invasive species, and pollution. To this end, it will characterize the composition and condition of a representative sample of coral reefs throughout the globe. The campaign is deploying an airborne instrument known as PRISM, which is an "imaging spectrometer" capable of measuring light in hundreds of different wavelengths over wide areas. Interpreting these spectra allows us to map the different constituents of the water surface, column, and seafloor. The PRISM instrument acquires hundreds of Gigabytes of data per day which are subsequently transported to JPL for intensive analysis by a complex scientific data workflow comprised of many interrelated stages: calibrating the instrument both spectrally and radiometrically; aligning measurements in a geographic frame of reference to form maps; estimating and removing the effects of atmosphere; accounting for water column interference to estimate seafloor reflectance properties; and classifying the seafloor into different areas of coral, algae, and sand.
Description:  The project will use computer science and software engineering principles to construct next-generation science data workflows, coding innovations in data science that will benefit the CORAL campaign and enable more timely, efficient, and comprehensive science results. The student will learn about how data is managed automatically within the science data analysis architecture on our state of the art, high performance cluster. The student will characterize the existing methods using metrics of computational and process efficiency, recommend improvements, and implement them in code.
Student Requirements:  The ideal student would have a strong computer science background, familiarity with principles of software design and comfort within a UNIX-like environment and the command line. Their coursework would include mathematics (ideally with statistics or machine learning, and linear algebra). Exposure to, and interest in, remote sensing, physics or Earth sciences would be a bonus!
Location / Safety:  Project building and/or room locations: . Student will need special safety training: No.
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    both Caltech and non-Caltech students 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.

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Problems with or questions about submitting an AO?  Call Jen Manglos of the Student-Faculty Programs Office at (626) 395-2885.
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